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Valliwide Organic Farms, Using Fresh Fruit to Fight PovertyValliwide Organic Farms is a California-based company focused on organic farming and produce. While it sells succulent mandarines, plums, nectarines and oranges, its vision is one of a bigger, more helpful mission: fighting extreme poverty. By partnering with When I Grow Up, a charity focused on addressing childhood poverty, Valliwide Organic Farms uses the profits of fresh fruit to fight poverty.

The Valliwide Organic Farms

Tod and Traci Parkinson have owned Valliwide since 1992, first as a produce marketing company. In 2010, they purchased their own organic farm as agricultural demand shifted in that direction. However, before their venture into organic farming and produce, the couple felt the pull to help others. They invested in a charity called When I Grow Up, and in 2010 when they bought their farm, the couple dedicated large portions of their profits to the charity. Valliwide was committed to using fresh fruit to fight poverty.

To provide futures for the next generation, Valliwide Organic Farms’ partnership with When I Grow Up seeks to create opportunities for those in disadvantaged communities. The founders’ motivation to grow matches their motivation to give back.

When I Grow Up’s Partnerships

When I Grow Up began in 2006 when, after a visit to a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, a group of U.S. citizens decided they needed to do something to help the thousands of children struggling with disease and a lack of resources. The newly-formed charitable group partnered with local Indigenous leaders who knew how to best manage and allocate the help provided. As its name suggests, this charity focuses on providing children with the means to create a brighter future.

The charity’s work in Nairobi has been in coordination with the Faruha Community Foundation (FCP), an organization working to provide an education to local children in situations of deprivation, many of whom are HIV positive. Its start as a tutoring support group has blossomed into a primary school of 500 children and, more recently, a high school of 150 students. Additionally, FCP provides health care, residential living assistance and microloans for those without resources. With funding from When I Grow Up, the FCP accommodates and supports many impoverished students while giving them the tools to create a successful future.

Other locations of need include Zone 18 in Guatemala, where crime and violence are widespread. When I Grow Up partners with Esperanza Para Guatemala, a local group working to provide sustenance and emotional support for local children and their families. The groups stock the local library with books and computers to learn essential vocational skills such as carpentry, baking, cosmetology and computers. More than 9,000 plates of food go toward feeding children and families monthly.

Feeding Children in Haiti

Furthermore, When I Grow Up’s recent work in Haiti is of paramount importance for Valliwide’s owners as Tod is the region’s field leader. Partnering with Lucson Dervilus, a native Haitian, Valliwide and When I Grow Up sought to provide support for the struggling, isolated communities of Palma and Jacob after the devastating earthquake of 2010. In October of that year, the groups created a feeding program for a local school intended to help local children escape poverty situations in the region.

In July 2012, the groups began building a new school to accommodate more children. Alongside the school, local families would receive grants to start trading to earn sufficient income to provide for their children. Over a couple of years, more than 250 students attended the school, with more teachers and staff to support their education. Additionally, the school received cattle and goats to begin an agricultural program to supplement the school’s income.

The work that When I Grow Up has accomplished is awe-inspiring. Moreover, Valliwide Organic Farms’ dedication and commitment allow the fresh fruit farm to help others on a global scale. While Valliwide has a U.S. base in California, its vision is to help children worldwide.

The Parkinsons use their fresh fruit products to do veritable good for the world. The juicy flavors of their mandarins, plums, nectarines and oranges pale in comparison to their ardent and steadfast dedication to providing for the next generation. By using fresh fruit to fight poverty, Valliwide Organic Farms is picking the commendable route to profitability and genuinely taking the fight against extreme poverty into its own hands.

Eliza Cochran
Photo: Flickr